Book Review: Costa Brava by David Kennedy

*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I’m leaving a voluntary review*

Probable spoilers ahead.

Short plot: Alex Scott is asked to come to his friend’s family’s vacation home in Spain after the death of Manolo, the janitor. What first seemed like an accidental death proves to be more mysterious than expected.

Longer plot: Alexander Scott is a journalist based in London. In his youth, he enjoyed spending his holidays in Spain, with Charlie’s family at Can Daurat. Now, ten years after Charlie’s untimely death, Alex has been sent for by Charlie’s father, Bill. Manolo, one of the help who works at the estate to look after it when the family is gone, has died. Fallen to his death from the cliffs above the house. Bill asks Alex to look after the place in Manolo’s stead, and help sort out some stuff, and hire some new help. Alex, not having been back to Spain for years, happily agrees, thinking he can spend the time writing articles and catching up with his old Spanish friends.

As soon as he arrives, things start getting weird. Why would Manolo, a man in his eighties, be up on top of the cliffs-on the other side of the fence? And why are there video surveillance clips missing from the start of the recently installed security cameras? And how come someone is so interested in buy the house?

Alex is definitely weirded out by a lot of things to begin with, but there’s still not very much to go on. He spends some time familiarizing himself with the area, testing Bill’s boat, meeting his friends and partying. But then he’s attacked on his way home, going in to the house. The police won’t believe him, a person showing up on the doorstep is still very adamant about wanting to buy the house, and Alex’ friend Santiago won’t pick up the phone.

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Review: First of all – this is a bloody great book! Hats off to David Kennedy for writing such a brilliant first novel (talented bastard!). This is definitely topping the list of my recent reads, I loved everything about it – it’s well written, great characters, sooooo much mystery and intrigue, and it’s just exciting. The pace was great – In one sense the book is very slow, because Alex’ suspicions rise slowly, and he’s doing all these things (meeting his friends etc. etc.), so many of his questions/suspicions are raised more than once. But at the same time this book is such a page turner – I was constantly asking questions, sometimes out loud! “Who’s this guy who want’s to buy the house? What’s his deal? Where the f**k is Santiago!””

The ending was really great as well, when stuff starts falling into place, Alex meets some other character with similar suspicions as him, they decide to investigate further – and until then, it’s kind of been a quite mellow, mysterious-private-eye-don’t-get-into-trouble kind of investigation, and then suddenly it kicks off. And boy does it kick off, one tumble after another, on and on it goes. I’m happy to say I didn’t see the ending coming – always a pleasure to be lead astray.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book, is specifically a thing about Alex, that I just couldn’t wrap my head around. And this thing, this really, really ruined the whole experience for me (Warning: Insert big pile of Sarcasm here, in case you didn’t pick up on it). The thing is – Alex Scott is a very clever person, a cultural man, a journalist, a person who seemed to be very knowledgable – but for some reason he doesn’t know what an anagram is. Not buying it Alex!

Anywho, I’m rambling now – if you’re looking for a pretty dope read, an exciting Spanish mystery filled with action, romance… well all the things I’ve already talked about above…

Go read Costa Brava by David Kennedy!

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